What are the Causes of Achilles Tendonitis (Heel Pain)?

Symptoms and Causes of Achilles Tendonitis:

Achilles Tendonitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. In most cases, it is a type of overuse injury and is more common in younger people. Professional and weekend athletes can suffer from Achilles tendonitis, but it is also a common overuse injury in people not involved in sport. Treatment includes rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition.

Achilles Tendonitis

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis include:

  • Pain in the back of the heel
  • Difficulty walking – sometimes the pain makes walking impossible
  • Swellingtenderness and warmth of the Achilles tendon

Causes of Achilles Tendonitis

Some of the causes of Achilles tendonitis include:

  • Overuse injury –This occurs when the Achilles tendon is stressed until it develops small tears. Runners seem to be the most susceptible. People who play sports that involve jumping, such as basketball, are also at increased risk.
  • Arthritis – Achilles tendonitis can be a part of generalised inflammatory arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. In these conditions both tendons can be affected.
  • Foot problems – Some people with flat feet or hyperpronated feet (feet that turn inward while walking) are prone to Achilles tendonitis. The flattened arch pulls on calf muscles and keeps the Achilles tendon under tight strain. This constant mechanical stress on the heel and tendon can cause inflammation, pain and swelling of the tendon. Being overweight can make the problem worse.
  • Footwear – Wearing shoes with minimal support while walking or running can increase the risk, as can wearing high heels.
  • Overweight and obesity – Being overweight places more strain on many parts of the body, including the Achilles tendon.

Diagnosis of Achilles Tendonitis

To confirm the diagnosis and consider what might be causing the problem, it’s important to see your doctor or a physiotherapist. Methods used to make a diagnosis may include:

  • Medical history, including your exercise habits and footwear.
  • Physical examination, especially examining for thickness and tenderness of the Achilles tendon.
  • Tests may be required. These may include an x-ray of the foot, ultrasound and occasionally blood tests (to test for an inflammatory condition), and an MRI scan of the tendon.

Treatment for Achilles Tendonitis

The aim of the treatment is to reduce strain on the tendon and reduce inflammation. Strain may be reduced by:

  1. Avoiding or severely limiting activities that may aggravate the condition, such as running.
  2. Using shoe inserts (orthoses) to take pressure off the tendon as it heals. In cases of flat or hyperpronated feet, your doctor or podiatrist may recommend long-term use of orthoses.
  3. Inflammation may be reduced by:
  • Applying icepacks for 20 minutes per hour during the acute stage
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Other Treatment that may be Recommended

You may also be given specific exercises to gently stretch the calf muscles once the acute stage of inflammation has settled down. Your doctor or physiotherapist will recommend these exercises when you are on the road to recovery. Recovery is often slow and will depend on the severity of the condition and how carefully you follow the treatment and care instructions you are given.

Alliance  Physical Therapy is the Best Physical Therapy Clinic. We provide 24/7 access to online appointments, with most of the requests scheduled in less than 48 hours. Call now for Quick Appointment: 703-356-3470


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